David Bain could not have left his fingerprints on a rifle by simply picking it up to have a look at it, an expert has told the High Court.

One set of fingerprints found on the rifle in the Bain family home after five of the family were shot dead belonged to David Bain, the court has heard. A print found in another location on the rifle belonged to David's brother Stephen.

Police fingerprint officer Kim Jones analysed the Winchester .22 rifle found next to the body of Robin Bain after the deaths on the morning of June 20, 1994, and said in addition to finding fingerprints on the rifle, there was also what appeared to be blood.

David Bain, 37, is on trial in the High Court for the murder of his parents and three siblings in their Dunedin family home. His defence team say his father, Robin shot dead the rest of the family before turning the rifle on himself.

Mr Jones told the court today he found four fingerprints from a left hand in what appeared to be blood in the wooden stock near the barrel.These fingerprints on the stock were compared to the fingerprints of David Bain and found to be a match.

Asked by prosecutor Kieran Raftery if the prints could have been left by someone simply picking up the rifle to see what it was, Mr Jones said they could not have.

The prints, examined on June 21, were applied with such pressure and so defined that Mr Jones said he was in no doubt they were of "recent origin".

There was no smearing between each of the fingerprints, so the hand had to placed on the rifle when there was no blood, he said.

He believed the hand was slapped on the rifle with considerable force and pushed down towards the floor.

Mr Jones said he also found two fingerprints on the right side of the silencer attached to the rifle. These were made by a right hand. Only one had sufficient detail for identification.

On June 22, Mr Jones found the print matched the fingerprints of David's brother Stephen, 14, who was shot dead in his bedroom after a violent struggle. It would have placed on the rifle with considerable pressure, and again was of recent origin, Mr Jones said.

There were also other areas on the rifle where a hand or fingers made contact with the rifle, but these were unsuitable for identification.

The defence says the prints could have been left when the rifle was used in hunting months earlier, and the blood on the rifle could be from an animal.

Mr Jones said his job was to identify any fingerprints on the rifle, but when he first did a visual inspection of the rifle, it appeared to covered in blood. He was not sure if this was human or animal blood.

The rifle was put under a special "polilight" to enhance fingerprints and blood. He again saw what he believed to be blood under the light.

"It appeared to be covered in its entirety in blood."

Mr Jones said he also examined the laundry in the Bain home on June 22 and, with the aid of the polilight, located the outline of a partial palm print in blood on the washing machine.

He believed a left hand had been resting on the top edge of the washing machine. He chemically enhanced this palm print.

He found this portion of palm print to be identical to that of David Bain.

The prosecution says David washed his bloodied clothing after shooting his family.

Father 'a loving man'

This morning the court heard that Robin Bain was a loving man, and a principal who taught his school pupils that "everything has a right to live".

Witness Darlene Thomson told the court that she taught with Robin at the small, isolated school, Taieri Beach School, near Dunedin. She described him as very private, but "kind, gentle and very caring". He was like a grandfather to the children, and took every possible opportunity to teach them something.

Ms Thomson told the court that for about two months prior to his death, Robin was living in the school house at Taieri, but before that had been sleeping in his van and going home to Dunedin at the weekends.

At the school house, he lived with his daughter Laniet, 18, and a boarder.

Questioned by defence lawyer Michael Reed QC, Ms Thomson said she was not aware Robin was separated from his wife and that he was on medication for depression.

Ms Thomson agreed he always looked sickly and pale, and this was because he did not eat well.

She said Robin used to pick her up Monday mornings and drive her to school with him.

"I thought he was a lovely man. Different. He made the most of every moment."

Robin got on very well with the children, she said.

"I think they would have seen him as a grandfather. I never once heard him raise his voice."

On fine days he would like to teach outdoors. Once a spider came inside and some of the children wanted to kill it. Robin became upset about this, and instead taught the pupils about the spider and set it free.

"The lesson was everything has a right to live," Ms Thomson said.

Christine Harrex worked at the school with Robin from 1991 to 1994, and she also described him as gentle.

She recalled incidences where both her children were seriously hurt in separate road accidents, and how caring Robin was towards her at those times.

Robin came across Mrs Harrex's daughter after she had crashed into a power pole near Dunedin. Robin rang Mrs Harrex to make sure she knew.

"He was just so thoughtful over those weeks she was in hospital," Mrs Harrex said.

Mrs Harrex met all of Robin's family, including David, who did groundsman work and filing at the school for a period of time.

The children thought David was great, she said.

"He was very pleasant."

Robin and David seemed to have a good relationship. She was aware the pair had come to her property at one stage to sight a gun.

Mrs Harrex told Mr Reed she never had concerns about Robin's mental wellbeing. However the school staff were all relieved when Robin shifted from living in his van to the school house.

Dorothy Duthie was Board of Trustees chairperson at the school, and spent a lot of time with Robin and became good friends with him.

She recalled an incident where Robin found a possum in a cage trap in the vegetable garden at the school, and called her to ask if she would dispose of it before the children arrived for the day.

Ms Duthie said she suggested using her air rifle which Robin was sceptical about.

She said when she arrived at the school, he was waiting at the gate with the possum in the cage. She handed the rifle to Robin, but said he dropped his hands by his side and stepped back. Ms Duthie found this unusual.

"He certainly didn't want to do the shooting."

Ms Duthie said she tried unsuccessfully to shoot the possum between the eyes, and Robin looked appalled, so she took it away with her in her car to deal with it.

In contrast, the defence has said Robin was a hunter and familiar with firearms.

Earlier, Ms Thomson said Robin was very interested in computers, and introduced computers to the school, which was very innovative for the time.

"He always made sure that even though the kids were isolated, they got the best of everything. He was very much ahead of his time. He was always on the computer when I got to work, and always on the computer when I left work."

"He never missed an opportunity to teach anything, ever,"

Robin hated paperwork, and always left it to the last minute, Ms Thomson said.

"He liked to be with the children and doing things with them," she said.

The low decile school, with a roll of 33, had some challenging children, but also some outstanding pupils.

"Some of them couldn't even read."

Robin talked about his own children, and was proud of them, but rarely talked about his wife Margaret. Arawa and David visited the school at different times.

Ms Thomson said his clothing was very unconventional and old-fashioned, and Ms Thomson recalled thinking he looked like a farmer. He would always wear woollen jerseys and a hat.

Asked by Mr Reed if Robin wore green jerseys, she said he used to wear green a lot.

The prosecution says David Bain wore a green jersey when he killed his family, then washed it, but the defence say this jersey belonged to Robin.

Ms Duthie said Robin did not shower regularly and could become smelly.

"He was a character. He was a caring person, a gentle man."

At dinners Robin attended with Ms Duthie's family, he was jovial and very witty.

"He fitted in very well with my husband and three children at the time."

In 1993, there was a visit by the Education Review Office (ERO) to the school, and Robin was sick with an ear infection.

She asked Robin's son Stephen if Robin had been to the doctor, and Stephen told her he hadn't, he was waiting for David to take him.

He lost a "bit of his spark" after this illness and a bad ERO report, but his spirits picked up when he moved into the school house.

Ms Duthie said she worked at the university that David attended.

He came to her one night and asked if she would mind giving Laniet a ride home to Taieri Mouth, and this became a regular occurrence.

Ms Duthie told Mr Reed she had heard rumours that Robin had separated from his wife.

She said she would be shocked if Robin had been involved in an incestuous relationship with Laniet, as the defence say was the case.

Mr Reed put it to Ms Duthie that stories written by children at the school about "shooting mum and dad", and other horrific things, were sent out to parents after Robin had edited them.

Ms Duthie said she became aware of it, but was not surprised children could write about horrific things.

She said she was not aware the local principals' association was so concerned about Robin's state prior to his death they had planned to have him attend a meeting with them under the pretence of a seminar.

She did not agree with Mr Reed that Robin's mental health had deteriorated prior to his death.

Carol Maxwell was treasurer at the school, and found Robin caring, gentle and understanding.

She said she never saw him lose his temper with the school children.

She considered him an "extremely proud parent".

She met David at the school, and agreed with Mr Reed that she found him polite and charming.

Asked about the "horrific" stories written by the school children, Ms Maxwell said she was not surprised having known the children.

Clifford Williamson knew Robin when his two children went to the school, and said he believed Robin had lived for a time in his caravan to save money.

He described Robin as a "pretty frail type of fella".

"Robin was a great joker. My kids thought the world of him when he was teaching them."

He recalled a school camp he and Robin were at. When some adults went rabbit shooting, Robin did not.

"I don't think he showed any interest."

William Christie was a registered nurse in Dunedin in 1994 who dealt with patients with depression, and was also part of a male choir that Robin and David joined in around 1990.

Mr Christie said he found Robin quiet and serious, but a supportive father. He said he never saw Robin display any signs of depression.

But he agreed with Mr Reed that if Robin was receiving treatment for depression, he was obviously depressed.

Mr Christie said he spoke with David about sport and music and he seemed quite normal.

Shortly before his death, Robin suggested Mr Christie and his son join he and David in a quartet, Mr Christie said.

"To me, he was forward-looking and appeared to have positive intent for the future."

He recalled Robin once addressing the whole choir and mentioning tickets were for sale for a production that David was in.